Thursday, September 29, 2016

THE BUREAU: Smart 'n classy French TV series from Eric Rochant gets exclusive U.S. run via the SundanceNow Doc Club

For those may have found the French TV series Spiral a little too over-the-top regarding sex, violence and very dark doings, here comes a new French television show that has already won awards and popularity: THE BUREAU (Le Bureau des Légendes), which will have its American premiere this coming Monday, October 3, streaming via the SundanceNow Doc Club, that purveyor of first-class documentaries and -- very occasionally -- some interesting narrative ventures, as well.

Created by Eric Rochant, shown at right, who wrote three of the (20 thus far, though only the first ten are being shown now) episodes and directed eleven of them, the series details the workings of a supposed top-level French intelligence agency and several of its employees (or shall we call them "spies"), both high level and low. Featured most prominently is Guillaume, aka Malotru (Mathieu Kassovitz, below, who bears a rather obvious resemblance to M. Rochant), who is just now returning to France after a very long posting in the Middle East.

As usual in the spy game, all old ties must be severed thoroughly and completely. This proves a bit more difficult regarding the affair our boy has with his mistress, Nadia (Zineb Triki, below). We also quickly learn some things regarding Guillaume's "professional" life, and about his French family, especially his adolescent daughter of whom he is quite fond.

There is always some glamour attached to things mysterious, and so it is here. Yet what we observe in The Bureau seems less glamorous and much more prosaic and detailed than what we see in so many of our American versions of the same genre.

Those details -- what is stored in the lockers at "work," for instance -- even if they are not true (and how would I know?), prove fascinating and in any case seem real enough to pass muster. Style-wise and visually, the series appears almost documentary direct. It moves along quickly enough, always keeping us on our toes, but it is never super slick and/or Greengrass showy.

Trust and betrayal are generic/epidemic to/in spy stories, and so it is here. Yet The Bureau has been able to add a few new wrinkles to the meaning of betrayal. As it moves along, the series grows ever mores dense, with subplots involving the training of a new recruit (Sara Giraudeau, above), as well as whether an old one may have sold out his employers, as well as his co-workers. The latter involves the use of a most interesting behavioral psychologist (played by the excellent Léa Drucker, below)

The theme of trust broken keeps raising its head, making certain we understand how difficult it is to ever really know anyone. Only three episodes were provided us critics to preview. But these were enough to quickly corral TrustMovies. If all ten had been provided, he'd have probably binge-watched the lot.

Look for the debut of The Bureau this coming Monday, October 3. via the SundanceNow Doc Club, which you can learn all about -- and maybe join -- by clicking the previous link. (Above is that splendid actor Jean-Pierre Darroussin, as special here -- playing the head of the bureau -- as he always is.)

No comments: